A technique common in South Indian cooking but missing from other cuisines is the steaming of lentil batter, which is then crumbled and added to other dishes. The thick lentil batter is made by soaking the lentil and then grinding with scant water to form a batter. For example, this Bean Paruppu Usili uses that technique. This one, too, uses a modified form where the lentil batter is used to cook in a kadhai with vegetables, forming a scrambled lentil crumble.
Perhaps you are looking for other Thoran/Poriyal recipes here and here, or other Fry recipes. You might also like our Usili recipes here. Or you might like to browse Indian recipes here and here. Check out our easy Summer recipes here and here.
This post on our sister site, Heat in the Kitchen, explains different types of lentil crumbles. It is interesting to read the section on puttu. My Indian foody sister Srivalli from Cooking 4 All Seasons explains that puttu is a “scrambled” or “crumbled” dish in TamBrahmin cuisine. In Kerala, however, and Sri Lanka too, it is a layered mixture of rice batter and coconut usually cooked in a cylinder, but can be cooked as balls and then crumbled. Often there is a fine line between usli and puttu dishes, and in some parts of Tamil Nadu people generally refer to Usli as Puttu.
Meenakshi Ammal in her Cook and See series of books has this recipe, surprisingly straight forward in its explanation. (She can be difficult to follow at times, see my posts on her sambars.)
I found this quote recently on a post by Me Otherwise. It made me laugh. But I still love Meenakshi Ammal’s books even though I love the internet.
Maami ‘V’ is known to be the best cook in our family circle. Till date I rate her “murukkus and bakshanams” (spiral gram flour snacks and savories) the best in the town. Years back as a young girl; I would find her referring to “Samaithu paaru”, before starting off on make her delicacy. Samaithu paaru is a three volume bible of traditional Tambrahm food, written decades ago by Meenakshi Ammal. These books are almost a mandatory part of every Iyer girl’s dowry. Maami ‘V’s daughter recently married to settle down in America. I asked Maami if she had given her the mandatory dowry. “Ellai ellai” (no no). “Google is there na. She could just search for any traditional dish. So instead of the books I bought her an iPad as marriage gift!! Whoa…Google replaces Meenakshi Ammal. Ironically that evening I went on a search for the books in Chennai. After considerable hunting, I managed to get a copy in an obscure shop in Mylapore.
Poriyal generally means a stir fried or sauteed dish, usually of vegetables. It is usually made by sauteing shredded or diced vegetables along with spices. Tempering includes mustard seeds, chillies and perhaps urad dal. In Tamil Nadu, shredded coconut might be added. Kerala’s Thorans are similar to Tamil Nadu’s Poriyals. Browse all of our Thorans and Poriyals here.
Amma has included this dish under her section on Poriyal. Although no vegetables are involved it is stir fried/sauteed in the same manner.
Dhal Puttu | Paruppu Puttu | Dal Poriyal
Source : Adapted from Cook and See, by Meenakshi Ammal
Cuisine: Sth Indian
Prep time: 15 mins + 2 hours soaking time
Cooking time: 25 mins
Serves: 4 – 6 people, depending how you use it
1 cup toor dal/ red gram dal
4 tspn ghee or coconut oil
1 tspn black mustard seeds
curry leaves (5 leaves)
Soak the toor dal for 2 hours or more. Drain. Grind with the chillies, asafoetida and salt. Do not add too much water, the paste should be smooth and firm.
To steam the batter, heat some water in a large pan and prepare a tray – idli tray, a thali, or other flat steaming surface. Amma suggests using a banana leaf, oiled, to line the tray. I use baking paper which I oil before lining the tray.
Pour the batter onto your steaming tray. Place above the boiling water in the large pan (e.g. on an upturned bowl if you don’t have a proper steamer). Cover with the lid of the pan and steam for 20 minutes or until the batter does not stick to a skewer when inserted. (Use a toothpick or similar if you don’t have a cake testing skewer.)
Cool the cooked dough and then crumble it – use a blender and pulse if it does not crumble easily.
Now heat the ghee in a kadhai, wok or saute pan. Pop the black mustard seeds and when they stop popping, add the crumbled lentils and the curry leaves. Turn over four or five times and then remove from the heat and serve. It is a very light and beautiful dish perfect with a wet dish like kuzhambu.
Cabbage, beans, etc can be cooked separately and added to the crumble at the end of cooking if desired.
I use an electric spice grinder to pulse the steamed batter. Although I have to do it in small batches it gives me more control over the degree of crumbling.
A tspn of urad dal (split) can be added to the tadka after the mustard seeds are popped for some added texture.
You can add turmeric and/or grated coconut to the batter.
Sprinkle the end dish with a little lemon juice.
It’s a great dish for breakfast too.